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Research Guides

Introduction to Screencasting

This guide offers an introduction to screencasting, the tools to use, and some best practices to get you started.

Screencasting software

There are many screencasting software, both free and commercially available, to create screencasts.

Free screencasting software can be web-based, like Screencast-O-Matic, or downloaded onto a computer, like Jing. The features of the free screencasting tools are limited (e.g., no editing), but usually do the trick. Refer to the chart below on free screencasting software to choose the one that works best for your purposes.

Commercial products, such as Adobe Captivate or Camtasia Studio, have a wide variety of features, but come with a price. There are 30-day free trials available for both these products.


Free screencasting software

Screencast Software                                   Details                                                   Format Features Limitations

- Can be used with Mac or PC
- Must download software onto computer  

- Saves recordings as SWF (shockwave file)
- Upload to, which creates an embed code and simple URL to share screencast

- Record up to 5 minutes of video
- Resize screen frame 
- Pause during recording
- Has screenshot capture, with simple editing functions (adding textboxes, highlighting)
- Control privacy settings when uploaded to (hidden or password protected) 

- Cannot edit screencasts
- Cannot save as MP4 files
- 2 GB storage space limit & monthly 2 GB bandwidth limit via

- Web-based, can record on any computer
- Requires Java

- Publish to, YouTube, or save as a video file (MP4, AVI, FLV or GIF)

- Record up to 15 minutes of video
- Resize screen frame
- Pause during recording
- Add a caption file to recording
- Turn on/off mouse clicks, halo, cursor
- Free version will have 'Screencast-O-Matic' watermark
- Cannot edit screencasts (must upgrade to Screencast Pro to edit)

 Note: it is possible to add captions to screencasts uploaded to YouTube.

Commercial screencasting software

Adobe Captivate and Camtasia Studio are commercial screencasting softwares, which allow users to:

  • Edit screencasts
  • Create a table of contents, so users can jump to certain sections
  • Create special effects, including callouts, highlighting, zooming
  • Create captioning 

Using commercial screencast software allows for unlimited recording time.

Screencasting apps for tablets

'Explain Everything' (available through the App Store, Google Play, and Windows Store) is an interactive screencasting whiteboard app that allows users to record whatever is currently displaying on a tablet screen - whether it be a website, PDF, or image. It can save files as an MP4 or as a MOV file (for iOS devices only). Files can be shared to different platforms, depending on the operating system. Refer to the features chart for more details.